I’m going to say something you may have a hard time believing: you learned that you’re not worthy of self-care and that taking time to care for yourself is selfish.
If your first reaction was to disagree, then ask yourself the following questions:
Is it hard for you to make time for yourself or to say “no”?
Are you in the habit of putting other people’s needs before your own?
Do you prioritize your to-do list over doing good things for your body, mind, and soul?
If you answered yes to any of those, then somewhere along the way you learned that self-care is selfish and you don’t deserve to give yourself that oh-so-necessary form of self-love.
Where Does This Message Come From?
Perhaps a better question is “where doesn’t this message come from?” Because once you really look, it’s everywhere!
School. Work. Dysfunctional relationship dynamics (family, friends, intimate). Social media. Society at large. Anywhere expectations and comparisons can easily co-exist. Any avenue that teaches you to value something or someone over nurturing your fundamental needs.
And it ALL impacts how you view and prioritize self-care. Especially as women because we tend to be nurturers and caretakers by nature.
Productivity Culture Is Toxic
To make matters worse, productivity is a major way that we measure success. It’s so highly valued that we’ve been trained to compromise our own physical and mental wellbeing—in order to do more.
Being “too busy” has somehow become a badge of honor. It’s no wonder we always feel we should be doing or accomplishing something!
But the reality is this alarming lack of self-care is seriously compromising our collective health and happiness. Low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, burnout, addiction, and suicide—it’s all on the rise.
Health Is Your Greatest Asset
As anyone who has suffered from poor health can attest, health is your greatest asset! Herophilus put it brilliantly when he said:
When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.
But with never-ending demands and ever-growing to-do lists, how do we find the time to prioritize our health and happiness? How do we make time for self-care?
The “Big Rocks” Concept
Dr. Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, created the “Big Rocks” concept to help others prioritize what matters most. This metaphor is illustrated beautifully in the dated—but still totally relevant—video below.
In this metaphor, your life is a glass jar.
The rocks are the most important things that enrich you and bring meaning to your life. Things like spending time with loved ones, supporting your health, tackling passion projects, being in nature, enjoying hobbies that feed your soul, and connecting with Spirit.
The pebbles represent the remaining “small stuff.” The things that take time but don’t really add to your life in a meaningful way. Things you could do without and still have a really fulfilling life. Like social media, watching TV and movies, shopping, and checking your phone or email every time you get a notification. Even most material possessions would fall into this category.
The Order You Fill Your Jar Changes EVERYTHING
Turns out, it matters how you prioritize the rocks and pebbles!
When you put the pebbles in first and add the rocks last, you can’t fit the rocks—the most important things—into the jar.
BUT if you put the rocks in the jar first and then add the pebbles last, guess what? There’s room in your life for what matters most AND you still have room for the time stealers and black holes like TV and Facebook.
Watch the video below to see what I mean…
Applying “Big Rocks” to Health
When applying the “Big Rocks” metaphor to health and well-being, the rocks are the day-to-day self-care activities that have the most impact on your overall health:
- Adequate sleep
- Physical activity
- Cooking + eating nutritious whole foods
- Spending time with loved ones + kindred spirits
- Being outside in nature
- Stress management techniques like deep breathing or keeping a gratitude journal
- Connecting with your version of a higher power
If you truly want to restore health to your body, these foundational forms of self-care have to be in place. And no—“self-care” is not always as glamorous or fun as mani-pedis, retail therapy, or watching your favorite TV show. I love how Brianna Wiest breaks down the reality of self-care (read her excellent article here), and she couldn’t be more right when she says:
Remember, self-care isn’t selfish—it’s a necessary form of self-preservation! So give yourself permission to incorporate more self-care + self-love into your daily life!
And then make it happen by putting the rocks in FIRST! All those pebbles can wait, and YOU are worth it—I promise!
What are some of your favorite self-care practices?